What is TMJ dysfunction?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is your jaw joint that connects your mandible (jaw) to your skull. This is a sliding hinge joint that should glide smoothly as you open and close your jaw. TMJ dysfunction is any dysfunction of this joint or the surrounding muscles that control the movement of the jaw. This can cause:
- Pain at the jaw joint or surrounding muscles
- Pain when talking, eating, or yawning
- Swelling at the joint
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing the mouth
- Locking of the jaw
- Irregular motion of the jaw
What attributes to TMJ dysfunction?
There are numerous things that can contribute to TMJ dysfunction, these include:
- Jaw injury
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Overuse of the jaw
Why does structural chiropractic work so well for TMJ dysfunction?
Structural chiropractic is all about returning proper motion to joints, and strengthening the surrounding muscles and ligaments of joints. This is not only true for the spine, but all joints in our body, including the TMJ. By restoring proper movement and strengthening the surrounding structures, this not only reduces symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, but gets to the root cause of the issue, which prevents it from reoccurring in the future.
So how does this all happen?
When your joints (any joint) are misaligned, they cannot move correctly. When a joint does not move correctly, the stabilising muscles that support that joint become lazy and weak and the nerve connection to those muscles diminish as it’s not getting used much. If the joint is not supported correctly by the surrounding muscles this causes a lot of stress on the joint, and can lead to pain, inflammation, swelling, and many of the other issues listed above.
Chiropractors are able to restore correct movement to the TMJ through chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractors will also focus on all of the surrounding muscles, releasing any that may be tight and contributing to the incorrect motion of the jaw. They will also pay attention to the joints in the upper cervical spine, as dysfunction in these joints can contribute to lack of nerve connectivity to the jaw. By correcting all of these different factors we are able to correct TMJ dysfunction at its root cause, not just cover up the symptoms. Your chiropractor will also provide you with rehabilitation exercises for your jaw to do at home, to ensure full recovery of your jaw.